1. What is your favorite scene or line?
In the book, my favorite scene is when Willoughby comes and explains everything to Elinor. In the Emma Thompson movie, it’s probably a tie between all scenes with Elinor and Edward together. You can just read so much more of what is going on from their facial expressions and even other body language. Plus, their lines are so honest and humble. And who could not want a man to say “My heart has always been, and always will be, yours” to them?
2. Marianne wanted a romantic relationship and got a rational one instead. What do you think of that? Should she be with Col. Brandon, or should Elinor?
Well, I felt that Marianne certainly needed to learn some sense, and her getting a rational relationship helped to show that. But I am also the girl who read S&S twice still thinking Colonel Brandon was intended for Elinor. It’s why I like the movie(s) better, because I can see then that Elinor is better off with Edward. Perhaps I should re-read the book post 17 years of age to see if any wisdom I’ve hopefully accumulated over the years has helped with understanding.
3. Secrets isolate people, and almost everyone in the novel has a secret. Make a list of who they are and what their secret is. How are they each isolated? Is Marianne isolated? How?
Edward – his engagement
Elinor – knowing about the engagement
Willoughby – his being a cad and a blackguard
Col. Brandon – his history (particularly concerning Eliza) and his love for Marianne. However, if you notice these are not things that are completely concealed. Others know or may guess, which is probably one reason why readers may come to know, understand, and love him best. His secrets aren’t secret, and we are able to see inside him and love him more fully.
Marianne is isolated because she isolates herself. Actually, I think that’s what everyone does who has a secret. Not saying that we should all tell every or any one everything we possibly could. Some things may be secret to us if we choose to isolate that particular part of ourselves from others.
4. Who is described as being the most handsome/sexy man in the book? Why do you think it's set up that way?
Oh no--I don’t remember who was described that way!
5. What is your opinion of the Lucy Steele/Robert Ferrars match?
Both odious people—they deserve each other. Besides, it brings down the uppity Robert. And I would never begrudge any female (no matter how conniving) happiness in marriage. Besides, will she truly be happy with him? We know so little of the two together, it is hard to make a judgement call.
6. What is your opinion of Edward as an Austen hero?
I think he certainly holds place for certain women out there. He was young and didn’t think at first. He paid dearly for his impulsive behavior. (I also have a feeling that the scheming Lucy did a good job at not showing all of her true personality to him until she had or thought she had what she could get. Is that not how she was with others?) Yet he is still honorable. And some women like the quieter man who understands them at a deep level without needing to make a big show of things. He seems more realistic, actually.
7. Who do you think the unnamed informant(s) is/are who ruin Willoughby's fun?
I always thought it was Lady Allen. Did I get that from the movie or something?
8. Why does Lucy get a happier ending than Willoughby?
Because Lucy didn’t break someone’s heart, permanently ruin their reputation, and then leave them without caring a hoot about them.
9. Discuss the title. What does Sense mean? What does Sensibility mean? Who embodies those qualities? Do you have one or both of those qualities? What are the advantages and disadvantages of both?
Elinor is sense. She is practical and does everything that she thinks is right, proper, and best. Marianne is sensibility, who does everything that she feels is best—usually for her. I would like to think I have both. There are times my sense of propriety
wins out in many things. But other times my overly sentimental self takes over.
10. Would Mr. Palmer be a better husband if he had a better wife?
I really want to believe so. And not just because Hugh Laurie is cute and plays the part well. I like to believe that he had a lot of potential, and that if he’d had a good wife to support him he would have been happier and more pleasant. I also like to think that (like Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre) he was “tricked” by not really knowing who she was until he married her. Women did much in those days to secure a marital position. Perhaps it was one of Austen’s many ways of commenting on that.
11. How are talkative women portrayed in the novel? Think about Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Palmer, Lady Middleton and the Miss Steeles.
It doesn’t seem to be a positive trait, especially if the talkative is idle chatter. Marianne could be considered talkative (in her happy moods), yet I think she had a little more to say. Upbringing, social standing, and “accomplished” all making a difference?
12. Col. Brandon stands back and lets Marianne carry on with Willoughby even though he knows Willoughby's secret. Why would he do that? Have you ever held back and let someone you know make a bad decision?
I thought he at first was only suspicious of Willoughby’s misdeeds. And that when he knew for sure, Marianne was already separated from him. Was that another movie thing? Well, I think he might have been worried what others thought. There was already pushing and pressing and hinting about him and Marianne. With him truly having feelings for her, the last thing he’d want is to look like jealous, mud-slinging rival. Maybe something about his past had him scared? And maybe he felt that she was wise enough to not get in too far. I’m not really sure. Personally, if I have seen something that from my own experience know led a bad decision on my part, I like to let the other person know. But once I’ve told them, I leave them to their decision and consequences.